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Empowering Talent Through Diversity

Amparo Bared started out at Ryder System Inc., a Fortune 500 transportation and supply chain management company, in 1995. She began as a human resources manager, rising in rank and responsibility during a 19-year career to become vice president of global talent management. Bared specializes in talent management, recruitment and promotion of diversity. At Ryder, she created the Diversity and Inclusion Council and expanded the use of innovative recruitment outreach efforts. She also played a key role in organizing Ryder’s first Women’s Leadership Forum.

Having grown up in Miami, which was not always as diverse as it is today, Bared’s personal experiences and background inspired her to reshape the diversity efforts at Ryder.

Bared recently spoke with Diversity Executive. Below are edited excerpts from the interview:

In terms of diversity in the workforce, what was Ryder like when you first joined in 1995? What were your impressions and thoughts?

When I started at Ryder, its diversity and inclusion efforts were like many companies at that time — focused on compliance. Our diversity representation was challenged, not only as a company, but also as an industry. Now, we approach diversity and inclusion as part of the way we do business. We value diversity, and our representation reflects that value and is significantly higher than it was in the late ’90s. We also have a focus on inclusive leadership now, which allows us to collaboratively leverage that diversity for innovation and business growth.

How did you start developing a program that would strengthen the company’s diversity and inclusion focus? What were your goals?

We first established a talent management department to ensure Ryder was consistent with all of our talent programs and practices. We then ensured that both diversity and inclusion were integrated throughout those practices, to make certain that we attracted, selected, hired and retained top diverse talent. This practice continues today and ensures that all of our talent is viewed as an enterprise asset and responsibility.

At the onset, we did gap analysis to understand where we had been, where we were and where we needed to be — what worked, what did not and what needed to be done differently. With these answers in mind, we decided to start by focusing on the creation of bench strength for leadership positions. Therefore, we focused our efforts on entry-level leadership roles that were feeder positions for executive positions.

To ensure the entire organization adapted this new approach to diversity and inclusion, we intentionally included the business leaders. This helped drive the change and was viewed as being owned by the business, not a corporate or compliance function. To help the organization do this, we anchored our value of diversity to our leadership competencies. This allowed all leaders, existing and future, to know the value Ryder puts on diversity, diverse perspectives and inclusive leadership. Once the behaviors were defined and communicated, we not only integrated them into our talent practices, but we also began to hold leaders accountable to those behaviors through performance and incentive.

How has your own background influenced your pursuits in the workforce?

My early experiences made me aware of biases and influenced my foundation of beliefs. I grew up in Miami, and it didn’t always have the cultural diversity that it has today. My family was one of only two Hispanic families in our neighborhood, school and church. My last name was obviously of a different origin from others in the neighborhood, so I often found myself being questioned about it. I was discouraged from openly sharing my ethnicity, and I was even advised not to share my true Hispanic roots. Instead, I was encouraged to pretend to be American Indian to help me “fit in.” So, through most of my early life I knew I was a minority, I knew I was different and I knew I was treated differently. I knew this was something I didn’t want others to experience.

In my late teens, we moved to a growing Hispanic neighborhood, which was also in Miami. I can still remember being so happy and excited the first time I heard someone speak Spanish in public. I finally felt like I was home and in a comfortable place. Today Miami is very different. It is multicultural and rich in diversity. Ethnicities, races, religions and backgrounds are all part of our vibrant city. Even so, the experience I had as a child facing biases is one that still occasionally occurs today. So, I continue to help people overcome their biases and I try hard to help establish open and accepting environments.

What kind of diversity trends in the workforce do you see today? What are the positive and negative ones?

I don’t view the trends as negative, but they are certainly challenging, new and different. We are seeing the complexities of having four generations in the same workplace. Their styles are different, as are their value systems. This poses a great opportunity if leveraged appropriately, so we make sure these diverse styles are considered when we form workgroups.

Veterans transitioning to the civilian workforce are also a trend that will continue into the near future. This talent pool offers skilled talent with many experiences. It also is a ready-now diverse pool of leadership talent.

Other trends we are seeing include an increase in workers who identify themselves as being disabled, women who are representing an increased number of graduates, and the overall increase of diverse talent as part of the U.S. workforce. Again, all of these are opportunities.

What were the benefits of your efforts to include more diversity at your workplace?

Our diverse representation has improved by 139 percent since our earlier efforts. Our leadership has become more diverse, and women are holding many more leadership and operating roles than when I first started. But the biggest change is the evolution of diversity and inclusion from being compliance-driven to it being a business imperative, valued by both Ryder and our customers and necessary for significant growth.

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